On Monday for Faces of israel, we hosted Joe Perlov, who presented a dynamic, interactive map program to our students. His program used an actual floor map, which was created during the program, to explore Jewish history, the history of Israel and the region, and the various sides in the contemporary conflict in the Middle East. We discussed with Joe some possibilities for resolving the conflict.
Early Tuesday morning, we drove north to a natural water park called Gan HaShlosha, a well-known water park to the west of the Bet She’an Valley.
Wednesday was a big day for our students. They went on a special tour of Temple Mount and had the opportunity to see the Dome of the Rock up close. It was crazy thinking that 3000 years ago people were cutting massive stones out of the earth and then hauling them up for the construction of the temple. For most of us, it was incredibly surreal to be at the holiest place in Judaism, and we learned about the history of the Temple Mount itself. Many of the students were in awe of the beautiful mosque. We are so lucky that we are in a time of peace, so we were are able to go up the Temple Mount and to visit this site which is so important to both the Jewish and Muslim people.
“On Wednesday morning, a number of Aardvark students, including myself, were taken on a tour of the Temple Mount, an extremely politically sensitive location. It holds significance for many religions, and all want some say in the jurisdiction over the land. For Jews, it was the site of the second temple and where Abraham (almost) sacrificed his son. For Muslims, it was where Muhammad ascended to speak with and receive instructions from God. And even for Christians, it is holy because Jesus was once present there. Despite its sacred identity, it is often the cause of great conflicts, such as the Second Intifada. Although its security is controlled by Israel, the actual mountain top is controlled by the Muslim community, and so if you are not a Muslim you may not pray there, and there are very specific hours during which you may visit. We all had to dress very modestly and avoid clothing or jewelry with religious symbols. And for those deemed immodestly dressed, long skirts and shawls were distributed by those guarding the entrance. Getting up there was a journey, but it was completely worth it. The mountain top is beautiful. There are ruins from the second temple, a magnificent mosque, and fantastic views of the surrounding area. My favorite part, though, was seeing the Dome of the Rock. Its size dwarfs you, the mosaics are astonishingly intricate, and the golden dome glitters in the sun. There were a few Muslims praying in the shade around the dome, and it was inspiring to see the passion with which they uttered the words of the prayers. It was a meaningful and important experience, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go!” – Rebecca Pearl
This week in (th)INK! we had a great session inspired by Wednesday’s visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif. We went much deeper into the questions of the significance of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as well as different understandings of what the expectation is for the Third Temple and ideas of the Messiah. We also explored ideas of Religious Zionism and how there can be religious people that are anti-Zionist. Shabbat Shalom!.
Have a great week,